Dec 22, 2012

DIY 3D printed eye glasses frames

BusyBotz uploaded video on how to print eye glasses frames. As eye glasses wearer this is greatly appreciated. They are expensive when you buy them. 3d printed ones are still not up to the standard, and real application is questionable since it is probably very hard to fit in the lenses. Still, I'm hopeful that the future will bring great advancements.

Dec 17, 2012

Double decker 3d printer by Ben Heck

Ben Heck did it again! Another AWESOME project! Double decker  3d printer that prints two objects at same time! Here are three detailed videos on how he put them together. Kudos Mr. Heck!

3D printed satellites

There were some articles floating around on 3d printing satellites but they lacked in many details, so I compiled some material on current state-of-play in the field. This post will be continuously updated with new developments.

Most of the 3d printing is related to Cubesat satellites. They are small (10X10X10 cm) picosatellites that are launched as auxiliary cargo on regular big scale launches.

3d printing is used in design / development phase or for printing working satellites support structure.

There is a full-scale model of ArduSat on Thingiverse:

Naval Graduate School conducted crash tests and released a paper "Direct Manufacturing of CubeSat Using 3-D Digital Printer and Determination of Its Mechanical Properties" for DARPA. Check links for much more details and videos.

Cubesat design specifications: 

Thesis on the feasibility of 3d printing Cubesat satellites:

From the summary of the study:

This study has found that a CubeSat can be developed to successfully incorporate the use of 3D printing manufacturing techniques into its design. This technology provides a potential cost savings of thousands of dollars, even for structures that would be simple to machine. Additional cost savings would be seen for very complex structures that would require advanced machining technology such as Electrical Discharge Machining to produce with aluminum. Using a Tyvak Nanosatellite Systems Intrepid system board at a cost of $3195  for the satellite avionics, it is conceivable that all the flight hardware for a CubeSat with a 3D printed structure could be procured for less than $5000. Not only do these materials provide the necessary strength to survive the rigorous testing and launch environments at a lower cost than machined aluminum, but they allow developers to be more creative with their satellites. Without any limitations from machinability, parts can be produced as they are imagined and new levels of optimization and functionality can be achieved. Further, extremely complex shapes, and even working mechanisms can be produced with 3D printing processes that cannot be manufactured with conventional machining. This allows designers create parts that require no post processing or assembly, streamlining the entire production process.

The university of Texas at El Paso’s W. M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation made advancements in 3d printed satellite sensors for their Trailblazer cubesat project (link).

Students of Montana State University plan to launch their amateur radio satellite PrintSat with nano carbon impregnated plastic by using a 3D printer. 

Looks like the future of space exploration is 3d printed. :-)

Let me know if there are some other interesting projects in this area.

Update (12.5.2014.):

KySat2 Cubsat was developed and launched with 3d printed parts.

More details at:

Update (8.8.2014.):

NASA is developing 3d printed nanosatellite telescopic camera:

Update (23.11.2014.):

RedEye (a Stratasys company) in cooperation with JPL 3d printed functional antenna array for a satellite.

From the source:
Due to COSMIC-1’s success, U.S. agencies and Taiwan have been working on a follow-up project called FORMOSAT-7/COSMIC-2 that will launch six satellites into orbit in late 2016 and another six in 2018. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has developed satellite technology to capture a revolutionary amount of radio occultation data from GPS and GLONASS that will benefit weather prediction models and research for years to come.
COSMIC-2 design and development began in 2011 at JPL. Critical components of the COSMIC-2 design are the actively steered, multi-beam, high gain phased antenna arrays capable of receiving the radio occultation soundings from space. The amount of science the COSMIC-2 can deliver is dependent on the custom antenna arrays. Traditionally, only large projects could afford custom antennas. COSMIC-2 was a medium size project that required 30 antennas so minimizing manufacturing costs and assembly time was essential.
A standard antenna array support design is traditionally machined out of astroquartz, an advanced composite material certified for outer space. The team knew building custom antenna arrays out of astroquartz would be time consuming and expensive because of overall manufacturing process costs (vacuum forming over a custom mold) and lack of adjustability (copper sheets are permanently glued between layers of astroquartz). The custom antenna design also contained complex geometries that would be difficult to machine and require multiple manufacturing, assembly and secondary operations, causing launch delays. JPL decided to turn to additive manufacturing technology to prototype and produce the antenna arrays.
The manufacturing chosen to build accurate, lightweight parts while maintaining the strength and load requirements for launch conditions was Stratasys’ Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM). FDM could produce this complete structure as a single, ready-for-assembly piece. This would enable quick production of several prototypes for functional testing and the flight models for final spacecraft integration all at a low cost. FDM can also build in ULTEM 9085, a high strength engineering-grade thermoplastic, which has excellent radio frequency and structural properties, high temperature and chemical resistance and could be qualified for spaceflight.
Instead of purchasing an FDM machine to produce the parts internally, JPL turned to RedEye, one of Stratasys’ additive manufacturing service centers with the largest FDM capacity in the world and project engineering experts who have experience with the aerospace industry and its requirements.
The antenna array support structures were optimized and patented for the FDM process. All shapes were designed with an “overhead angle” of 45 degrees at most to avoid using break-away ULTEM support material during the build. “Designing the antennas with self-supporting angles helped with two things,” said Trevor Stolhanske, aerospace and defense project engineer at RedEye, “it reduced machine run time so that parts printed faster, and reduced the risk of breaking any parts during manual support removal.” JPL was also able to combine multiple components into one part, which minimized technician assembly and dimensions verification time and costs.
Although FDM ULTEM 9085 has been tested for in-flight components, it had never been used on the exterior of an aircraft, let alone in space. Therefore, in addition to standard functional testing (i.e. antenna beam pattern, efficiency, and impedance match), FDM ULTEM 9085 and the parts had to go through further testing in order to meet NASA class B/B1 flight hardware requirements.
Some of these tests included:
  • Susceptibility to UV radiation
  • Susceptibility to atomic oxygen
  • Outgassing (CVCM index was measured to be 0 percent)
  • Thermal properties tests – in particular, compatibility with aluminum panels. (Aluminum has a slightly different coefficient of thermal expansion than non-glass-filled ULTEM)
  • Vibration / Acoustic loads standard to the launch rocket
  • Compatibility with S13G white paint and associated primer
ULTEM 9085’s properties met all required qualification tests, proving the antennas are space-worthy. However, the highly reactive oxygen atoms present at the operating height of the satellite could degrade the plastic. To protect against oxygen atoms and ultraviolet radiation, ULTEM was tested for compatibility and adhesion with some of NASA’s protective, astronautical paints. In this case, S13G high emissivity protective paint was chosen to form a glass-like layer on the plastic structure and reflect a high percentage of solar radiation, optimizing thermal control of the antenna operating conditions.
From March 2012 – April 2013, RedEye produced 30 antenna array structures for form, fit and function testing. Throughout each design revision, RedEye’s project engineering team worked closely with JPL to process their STL files to ensure the parts met exact tolerances and to minimize secondary operations. RedEye’s finishing department deburred the parts where needed, stamped each with an identification number and included a material test coupon. They also reamed holes for fasteners that attach to the aluminum honeycomb panel and the small channels throughout the cones to the precise conducting wire diameter.
“Not only did NASA JPL save time and money by producing these antenna arrays with FDM, they validated the technology and material for the exterior of a spacecraft, paving the way for future flight projects” said Joel Smith, strategic account manager for aerospace and defense at RedEye. “This is a great example of an innovative organization pushing 3D printing to the next level and changing the way things are designed.”
As of 2014, the COSMIC-2 radio occultation antennas and FDM ULTEM 9085 are at NASA Technology Readiness Level 6 (TRL-6). RedEye was able to successfully enter the JPL Approved Supplier List and delivered 30 complete antennas for final testing and integration. The launch of the initial six satellites is scheduled for 2016. Another constellation will launch in 2018. The FORMOSAT-7/COSMIC-2 mission will operate exterior, functional 3D printed parts in space for the first time in history.

Here is a video of phased array antenna being printed:

Source article:

Here is a picture of a satellite with the antenna being on lower right side of the spacecraft, shaped like a plate with 12 cylinders:

Update (26.1.2015.):

3d printed parts are also used in prototyping and final space going version of French CNES satellite EyeSat. Parts were printed by Sculpteo and parts probably going to space are sunvisor and four fixture elements.

Source and more information:

Update (20.3.2015.):

PrintTheBus is the first 3D printed aluminum CubeSat project that aims to get to lunar orbit with citizen experiments! They are competing in NASA's CubeQuest Challenge. Thy also started KS campaign:

Update: The KS project was canceled

Video from it republished by

Update (09.04.2015.):

I found this very interesting and informative paper "Printing Multi-Functionality: Additive Manufacturing for CubeSats" in PDF format:

Update (15.5.2015.):

Sciaky, major EBAM industrial 3d printer maker announced a partnership with Lockheed Martin to produce titanium propellant tanks for satellites. Because of the welding techniques implemented by the EBAM system, which allows for the size and speeds possible with the technology, intensive post-processing is necessary to bring parts to specification but the benefits are amazing.

Update (22.8.2015.):

Made In Space and NanoRacks want to 3d print cubesats in space.

Update (13.1.2016.):

NASA selected Aerojet Rocketdyne to mature 3D printed MPS-130 CubeSat propulsion system. Now we will have 3d printed satellites with 3d printed propulsion systems. 

System description:
MPS-130™ CubeSat High-Impulse Adaptable Modular Propulsion System (CHAMPS) is a 1U AF-M315E (low-toxicity propellant) propulsion system that provides both primary propulsion and 3-axis control capabilities in a single package. The system is designed for CubeSat customers needing significant ΔV capabilities including constellation deployment, orbit maintenance, attitude control, momentum management, and de-orbit.
  • Dimensions: 10 cm x 10 cm x 11.35 cm
  • Mass: <1.3 kg Dry, <1.6 kg Wet
  • Operational Temperature Range: +5°C to +50°C
  • Command Method: Digital or Discreet Analog 5V
  • Power Consumption: <TBD W Startup, <TBD W Operation
  • Operational Voltage: 5 V Nominal
  • BOL Thrust: TBD N (high thrust) to TBD N (low thrust) per thruster
  • Minimum Impulse Bit (at blowdown-averaged feed pressure): TBD to TBD N-sec per thruster

Company press release:

Update (17.2.2016.):

NASA will use a 3d printed bracket on their ICESat-2 made from Stratasys Polyetherketoneketone (PEKK). PEKK is a new material that can be used in space since it is resistant to extreme environments and electrostatically dissipative, preventing the static electricity build-up to protect sensitive electronics. The Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2 satellite will be launched in 2018.

NASA project homepage:

Update (05.03.2016.):

Made In Space, a company known for first NASA space-based 3d printer wants to 3d print satellite parts in orbit with their Archinaut technology.

3D printing satellite antenna reflectors in space 
Source and more information:

Update (17.03.2016.):

ESA is testing 3d printed antenna for future space applications. It is copper plated with a special process.

From the source:
A prototype 3D-printed antenna being put to work in ESA’s Compact Antenna Test Facility, a shielded chamber for antenna and radio-frequency testing.
“This is the Agency’s first 3D-printed dual-reflector antenna,” explains engineer Maarten van der Vorst, who designed it.
“Incorporating a corrugated feedhorn and two reflectors, it has been printed all-in-one in a polymer, then plated with copper to meet its radio-frequency (RF) performance requirements.
“Designed for future mega-constellation small satellite platforms, it would need further qualification to make it suitable for real space missions, but at this stage we’re most interested in the consequences on RF performance of the low-cost 3D-printing process.”
“Although the surface finish is rougher than for a traditionally manufactured antenna, we’re very happy with the resulting performance,” says antenna test engineer Luis Rolo.
“We have a very good agreement between the measurements and the simulations. Making a simulation based on a complete 3D model of the antenna leads to a significant increase in its accuracy.
“By using this same model to 3D print it in a single piece, any source of assembly misalignments and errors are removed, enabling such excellent results.”
Two different antennas were produced by Swiss company SWISSto12, employing a special copper-plating technique to coat the complex shapes.
“As a next step, we aim at more complex geometries and target higher frequencies,” adds Maarten, a member of ESA’s Electromagnetics & Space Environment Division. “And eventually we want to build space-qualified RF components for Earth observation and science instruments.”
Based at ESA’s ESTEC technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, the test range is isolated from outside electromagnetic radiation while its inside walls are covered with ‘anechoic’ foam to absorb radio signals, simulating infinite space.


Update (15.04.2016.):

Tomsk Polytechnic University from Russia developed and 3d printed the hull of the micro-satellite "Tomsk-TPU-120" which will be deployed in space.

From the source:
Somewhere aboard Russia’s space vehicle Progress MS-02, among the 2.5 tonnes of cargo, is the 3D printed Tomsk-TPU-120 microsatellite, which was designed and manufactured by the Tomsk Polytechnic University. The cargo ship has just successfully separated from the Soyuz-2.1a space rocket, and is making its way to the ISS astronauts. The microsatellite is equipped with a 3D printed hull, while most of the other satellite parts and components were 3D printed in plastic material as well. The microsatellite, which measures just about 300 x 100 x 100 mm in size, also contains an electric battery unit, which reportedly has made use of 3D printing with zirconium for the first time ever. The microsatellite will also contain a number of sensors, which will record temperature fluctuation data from the satellite, as well as how its components function during these fluctuations, and send the data back down to Earth to help us better understand manufacturing for conditions in outer space.

Update (12.07.2016.):

Thales Alenia Space and Poly-Shape SAS have built Europe’s largest qualified 3D printed metal parts for satellites using a Concept Laser 3D printer which measure a  447 x 204.5 x 391 mm but weigh just 1.13 kg. The laser-sintered antenna supports, which took six days to print from AISi7Mg alloy, will be used on the Koreasat-5A and 7 satellites, due to go to into orbit in 2017. It is 20% lighter and 30% cheaper to manufacture compared to the standard process.


Lockheed will use high-end metal 3d printing to fabricate satellites 40% faster:

Update (12.05.2017.):

From the source:
Space Systems Loral announced March 7 that its most complex additively manufactured part, an antenna tower with 37 printed titanium nodes and more than 80 graphite struts, is performing as intended in orbit on SKY Perfect JSAT’s JCSAT-110A satellite launched in December.
“Our advanced antenna tower structures enable us to build high-performance satellites that would not be possible without tools such as 3D printing,” Matteo Genna, chief technology officer and vice president of product strategy and development at SSL, said in SSL’s announcement.
SSL is now using the same strut-truss design methodology on other satellites it is building. That includes 13 structures SSL is designing and manufacturing. SSL is putting hundreds of 3D printed titanium structural components on its satellites per year, according to the firm’s announcement.

Source and more info:

Thales will 3d print big satellite parts with multiple functions in one part:

Update (11.06.2017.):

Australia has first satellites in space after 15 years and they are cubesats made with 3d printed thermoplastic structure. UNSW-EC0 was deployed from the ISS from a Nanoracks launcher, a "cannon" that eject cubesats at a height of 380 km (the same as the ISS), allowing them to drift down to a lower orbit where they can begin their thermosphere measurements.

Here is the presentation video:

Source post:

Update (17.06.2017.):

Here is a nice example how LibreCAD and 3d printing were used in the development of cubesat that uses open source technologies. UPSat was successfully deployed in space.

Aluminum casting in molds made with 3d printed objects

Crew of Hive 76 posted about their experience with casting aluminum objects in sand molds made by 3d printed models.

Dec 13, 2012

New 3d printer - Blade 1

Made by Hot Proceed Inc. from Japan. Full metal body and printing head.
Tech Specs:
  • Build envelope: 100 × 100 × 100 mm
  • Layer thickness: 0.2 ~ 0.4mm (can be adjusted)
  • Power supply: 100V 50/60Hz (power adapter included)
  • Material: 1.75mm ABS plastic filament
  • Sanguinolou V1.3a control board, Marlin firmware, USB
  • Printer size: 360 × 300 × 310 mm
  • Weight: 5kg
  • Price: 136,500 yen (1,642 USD / 1,259 EUR / 1,017 GBP), free shipping in Japan

Dec 11, 2012

3D printing with Raspberry Pi

Usually you make a case FOR your Raspberry Pi, but software developed by Walter Schreppers enables you to print WITH your Raspberry Pi. In addition to acting as printer controller, it enables you to control it remotely via web interface. Next developments will include support for web camera. Github page states that it works with Ultimaker, RepRap, Makerbot ... check it out ...

Dec 10, 2012

Different kind of 3d printer ...

Printer for lenticular printing. This model, presented some years ago by Fuji Film to work with their 3d photo cameras, didn't go mainstream as it seams. It doesn't print 3d objects, but 3d photographs on a special lenticular paper. I didn't even know something like this was under development.  I would like to see it in real life.

3D printed mold for carbon fiber parts

Guys from diydrones have posted a great example of using a 3d printer for molding of drone carbon fiber parts.

From the :

Poker Flat Research Range (PFRR), managed by University of Alaska Fairbanks is working on several unmanned aircraft project.  One of them is converting surplus Raven UASs to run on the APM 2.5 and equip them with an extended battery pack. The Ravens will be used by researchers in Alaska for coastline, environmental and wildlife studies. 
As a proof of concept, I designed and built this carbon fiber nacelle for my undergrad research class. It would cover the APM should it be located on top of the fuselage to make more room for payloads. 
PFRR had a point cloud of the raven fuselage generated from a NextEngine 3D laser scanner.  From this model, I designed a mold that accurately met the surface of the fuselage.  After adding supports to the mold so it would not deform in the vacuum bag, I printed it on our Fortus 250mc 3D printer.  When the mold was finished, it was prepped with a mold release agent and 3 layers of carbon fabric were cut and infused with resin.  After curing in the vacuum bag, I removed, trimmed and sanded the part. 
On this first iteration, the part fit very closely with no large gaps.  Any gaps can be attributed to the rough trimming which will be simplified in later designs by adding a flange to the lip of the mold. 

Dec 9, 2012

3d printing organic structures for science and education

Here is an interesting application of 3d printing: using it to print organic structures of cells and different organic molecules for research and education. If you can touch it and manipulate it, you can understand it.

Here is an image of printed Beta Cell model. Sometimes parts are individually painted and glued or they use magnetic connectors as links in molecules.

Cyanovirin in spheres with ball n stick ligands. 20 Million X.

Those models were done by Scripps Physical Model Service.

Check their cool gallery at: 

Another project aims directly at education institutions

Here is video demonstration of 3d printed self assembling virus (89.95$):

Dec 7, 2012

MendelMax with heated build platform upgrade

BusyBotz is demonstrating his heated build platform on his MendelMax. He also does some temperature measurements and compares performance of different heated platforms, including one from TrinityLabs.


New DIY 3D printer - The Aluminatus TrinityOne

TrinityLabs has their first 3d printer out: Aluminatus TrinityOne.

Videos of Aluminatus in action:

Technical specification and sales pitch from the product page:

Build Volume X:300mm, Y:300mm, Z:~300mm. Print huge objects and let your imagination soar! Don't be held back by tiny build volumes in most printers. The TrinityOne does not compromise on print quality or build size. This is a one-of-a-kind printer with no rivals in the current market. After more then a year of development and strategic partnerships we have ramped up manufacturing in order to bring these high-end, industrial-quality cartesian robotics components all together into one of the best 3d printers normal humans can afford.

This is the first 3d printer comprised of all fast 10 start, 25mm pitch leadscrews. The TrinityOne is capable of linear motion on the X and Y axis of up to 390mm/sec with the motors it ships with. SIMO linear actuators manufactured by our partners, PBC Linear (TrinityLabs co-developed them to precise specifications), are taylor made for the absolute highest quality and speed of prints. The X and Y axis on the Aluminatus TrinityOne is capable of +-0.02mm repeatability and resolution per meter of travel. Compare this to +- 0.1mm of repeatability and resolution per meter of travel on the best belt driven 3d printers on the market and you can quickly see that the TrinityOne is capable of a full order of magnitude higher accuracy and repeatability than the competition.

Repeatability is the biggest factor in the perceived quality of your printed parts. Prints from a TrinityOne printer at 0.2mm layer heights appear to be better quality than 0.1mm layer heights on most other printers because of the high repeatability that precisely aligns the layers that are laid down one after another. Giving the final prints a remarkable quality of accuracy!

The Glidescrew™ is a fusion of a leadscrew and a linear smooth rod plus a leadscrew nut and a linear bearing all in one shaft. This is what the Z axis on the TrinityOne is built with. So, from a visual appearance, the TrinityOne's Z axis looks like it only uses leadscrews and no linear smooth rod. But, underneath the hood, the Glidescrews™ provide both linear motion and linear guidance in a single shaft which reduces clutter and makes a simpler machinery with very high precision.

The TrinityOne's Z axis is capable or 0.025mm or 25micrometer layer heights! Of course with the unmatched repeatability of the X and Y leadscrew axis this is not truly needed as very high print quality is achieved with layer heights of 0.2-0.27mm that look like 0.1mm prints on other competitors printers.

Print Bed: The Aluminatus TrinityOne ships by default with a true Borosilicate print surface for the flattest, highest quality print surface available for 3d printers. It also comes with a kapton heating element that allows for printing of PLA and ABS as well as many other experimental new resins and types of plastic as they become available in filament forms. The print surface is 300mm x 300mm and has a 290mm x 290mm 24V, 200W kapton heater installed under a 300mm x 300mm aluminum heat spreader. The entire assembly is supported by a G10 and Aluminum Y platform machined for a light-weight and rigid/aligned print platform that hardly needs to be leveled. The all-metal construction of the frame and the rigid linear assemblies makes it perfectly level by default. That being said, there are 4 corner adjustable thumbscrews for getting the perfection from your print head and print bed alignment required by ultra fine layer heights.

85% Pre-assembled Kit: The TrinityOne ships as a kit but has been mostly pre-assembled and tested before it arrives at your doorstep. The estimated build time form unboxing to first print is only 1-3 hours! All of the precision-aligned linear motion assemblies are prebuilt and calibrated for you ahead of time and the PSU and Electronics as well as the wiring harness are pre-mounted to the assembled lower frame prior shipping. All there is left for you to do is to bolt together around 10 major components and then plug a few wires into their pre-made harness. There is no other 3d printer kit that you can assemble faster than this one. Also, you cannot misalign the linear axis by the very nature of their pre-assembled form factors. We ship pre-installed firmware on your electronics and provide custom tailored and tuned configuration files for the host and slicing software you run on your computer to drive the printer.

Extruder: The TrinityOne comes by default with a custom-designed extruder that uses a true planetary gear head nema17 motor with massive 334 oz-in holding torque but fast speeds of up to 118RPM. This allows for it to direct-drive 3mm filament with ease and still have very fast retraction speeds. The SIMO linear stage on the X axis can maintain up to 390mm/sec speed with up to 2.4kilos of weight on the carriage so using a bit heavier motor like this on the extruder does not affect the print speed at all. By default the TrinityOne also ships with a 0.4mm nozzle Jhead MKV-b hot end and uses a hobbled pulley made by blddk, who makes the best gripping filament hobbs on the planet. This extruder/hot end setup is nearly bullet proof and the custom guilder system makes it very easy to change filaments by just cutting off the current filament and pushing in the new color as the old one enters down into the extruder. This is easily done, even while printing, to allow for easy and precise color changes during a single print.

Price: 2199 USD

New DIY 3D printer - CB printer

Yet another RepRap based printer. Full metal construction. Created by Bartosz Cieluch from Poland.
  • Large build volume of 200 x 200 x 180 mm
  • Layer thickness of  0,1 mm
  • Extruder velocity of 50 - 300 mm / second

Dec 6, 2012

3D printing workflow infographic

Here is systematic overview of 3d printing process and workflow from design idea to finalized model.

Source and copyright:

Cool 3d printed skull by Joshua Harker

Handy 3d printed artwork done by Joshua Harker. 65$ on his Etsy. Cool ...

New WASP 3d printer / mill video

Dec 4, 2012

Cycloidal Gyro printed with a Mojo 3D printer

Youtube user Landon Smith printed this complex gear system downloaded from Grab CAD. From his video description:
This one took some working to get it to break free. The mojo is capable of printing +\- .007 of an inch so as long as I keep my gaps larger than that it should be fine, however a brain gear I printed had gaps at .009 and I never got it to spin. We were going to print some gears at varying gaps and see what worked but never got to it

BTW: It is interesting that there are almost no review videos of Mojo printer, or most of the other high end desktop printers. Why?

Dec 3, 2012

New milestone - 3d printing in video with Britney Spears

This must be very important :-)))))) First there was 3d printing in Dilbert comic, now it's in and Britney Spears music video. It is getting mainstream ... :-))))) - Scream & Shout ft. Britney Spears

Here is the link if you don't see the video:

PuzzleCut - cut your 3d objects in interlocking pieces

Sometimes you need to cut your model because of it's size is too big for your printer's print surface or to get a puzzle. Rich Olson made a OpenSCAD library named PuzzleCut for that exact purpose. It lets you easily divide objects into 2 or 4 interlocking pieces for 3d printing or laser cutting.
This is extremely useful little too with only two small obstacles for end users: you need to know how to use OpenSCAD and number of pieces is limited to 2 or 4 (probably solvable with some digging in Google and upgrades in future versions).
There are some other solutions for cutting models, but this one is able to position the puzzle cuts anywhere on the X and Y axes, adjusts the kerf for a tighter or looser fit, and exports one piece at a time for 3D printers with a smaller build area.

Dec 2, 2012

ROFI - 3D printed robot

ROFI is the fifth prototype from Project Biped ( ). It is a 3D printed, self-contained, statically balanced bipedal robot. It has 12 DOF (degrees of freedom). All of the designs, instructions, source code, and parts lists will be provided for free. ROFI was designed to be easily made by anyone with a low cost 3D printer and an interest in learning about robotics.
It is also a great present you can assemble and 3d print yourself :-)

For all instructions and files:

Printrbot Jr. printing snowflake

3d printed ornaments for your Christmas tree are cool thing to do this season ... :-)

DIY ultrasonic plastic welding

Ultrasonic welding uses high frequency sound waves to weld the plastics together. Here is a video demonstration of it in DIY system.

Site with more details form this video is down.
Here is more industrial ultrasonic plastic welder:

And when you need some quick and dirty plastic welding and you have a soldering iron, this is a short video about it, with interesting tip on how to use a paperclip as aid :-)

I don't know how applicable those methods are for 3d printed models. I know some people "weld" ABS with acetone (toxic) with varying results. It is interesting information and good to know skills.

If you want to weld broken plastic with soldering iron and you are aware of some risks and limitations here is a detailed guide:

Update (21.1.2014):

here is a new post about plastic friction welding with 3d printing filament inserted into Dremel:

3d printed foetus model

3D printed kinetic sculpture

Strandbeest by Theo Jansen. He also makes them in gigantic sizes, but you can get this one from Shapeways. It has 122 pieces, 20 legs and it's called "Animaris Geneticus Ondularis".

Dec 1, 2012

Fractal 3D printing for ultra high model strengths

Some scientist on several European research institutions have developed a method using fractal design to produce low weight and ultra high strength objects.

Yong Mao of the University of Nottingham, UK and colleagues have developed a theoretical framework for building structures where the optimal hierarchical order of the structure depends on the load it needs to withstand. Using this technique, the team constructed such a structure – a simple frame – from a polymeric resin, using a “rapid prototyping technique” – which is an advanced form of 3D printing.
For the first element in their structure, Mao and colleagues simply construct a hollow beam, which they refer to as the “generation-0” element. Different values of thickness and radii of the beam are considered, so that the strongest beam can be built, with the least amount of material. The robustness of this beam is then tested by applying a load along its length and along its axis, to see if it fails across either. “We do this to analyse the failure modes at each local level, so that the structure is not unnecessarily strong at each level…we optimize for what properties are necessary,” says Mao. He explains this further by saying that if a 50 kg table balanced on hollow steel legs it would be about 10 times lighter than one with solid steel legs and just as robust.
Generation-3 element could be ten thousand times lighter then an original with the same strength.
One problem is that the structure has to be very precise and without flaws. Any imperfection could lead to serous defects.

“Even a small imperfection at a local scale could have a large impact as there is no extra material that could take the added stress and maybe that is why this kind of fabrication has not been practical to date,” explains Mao, who says that the team is also studying its models to better allow for such errors. But he is convinced that commercial techniques will improve over the coming year, providing the necessary precision tools. Mao also feels that the recently commercialized technique of 3D printing could really benefit the fabrication of these structures. “We could just upload our deferent designs to a program and people could download and print off the structures at home,” he says.
This is MAJOR discovery and push foreward for 3D printing and additive manufacturing! Let's hope it will be implemented soon in some practical solutions.

Source and more information:

Research paper (you have to be registered to download):

Nov 30, 2012

Sinterhab - 3d printed lunar module

Looks like there are some more concepts for  large scale printing on the Moon with local material. 3d printing entire lunar colonies.


From the site:

This project describes a design study for a core module on a NASA Lunar South Pole outpost, constructed by 3D printing technology with the use of in-situ resources and equipped with a bio-regenerative life support system. The module would be a hybrid of deployable (CLASS II) and in-situ built (CLASS III) structures. It would combine deployable membrane structures and pre-integrated rigid elements with a sintered regolith shell for enhanced radiation and micrometeorite shielding. The closed loop ecological system would support a sustainable presence on the Moon with particular focus on research activities.
The construction method for SinterHab is based on 3D printing by sintering of the lunar regolith. Sinterator robotics 3D printing technology proposed by NASA JPL enables construction of future generations of large lunar settlements with little imported material and the use of solar energy. The regolith is processed, placed and sintered by a the Sinterator robotics system which combines the NASA ATHLETE and the Chariot remotely controlled rovers. Microwave sintering creates a rigid structure in the form of walls, vaults and other architectural elements. The interior is coated with a layer of inflatable membranes inspired by the TransHab project.

WSU scientists develop 3d printing from Moon dust

Chopper - Princeton's framework for partitioning 3d printing models

Abstract from the project site:

3D printing technology is rapidly maturing and becoming ubiquitous. One of the remaining obstacles to wide-scale adoption is that the object to be printed must fit into the working volume of the 3D printer. We propose a framework, called Chopper, to decompose a large 3D object into smaller parts so that each part fits into the printing volume. These parts can then be assembled to form the original object. We formulate a number of desirable criteria for the partition, including assemblability, having few components, unobtrusiveness of the seams, and structural soundness. Chopper optimizes these criteria and generates a partition either automatically or with user guidance. Our prototype outputs the final decomposed parts with customized connectors on the interfaces. We demonstrate the effectiveness of Chopper on a variety of non-trivial real-world objects.
You can find the paper, video and more details on:

Nov 29, 2012

3d printing ceramics

Figulo is doing it. This level of quality is still far away from diy 3d printers, and they use high performance ceramic 3d printing materials and some custom technology.

They are fundraising to develop the technology further. I hope they make it. Their campaign:

From the campaign page:

Quick Pitch
Figulo 3D prints ceramics for consumers, artists and businesses. We are revolutionizing the design and production of ceramic objects.

Who We Are
Figulo Corporation is a manufacturer of custom designed ceramics made using advanced materials and 3D printing technology.

Our Vision & Lightbulb Moment
I was at an engineering conference and an artist spoke about the difficulty of realizing her digital art. I realized that we could do this using 3D printing.

Our Product/Service, The Problem We're Solving
Figulo changes the design parameters for ceramics and frees the designer from the constraints of the mold and potters wheel. We have developed a unique 3d printing technology that redefines the way that ceramics are made. We open the world of ceramics to anyone with a computer, a design and access to the internet.

What We've Done So Far
We have created a 3D printing manufacturing facility in South Boston where we print, fire and glaze ceramic objects for customers all over the world. We have a staff of dedicated 3D printing experts and ceramic artists, where we work at the intersection of engineering and art.

Our Business Model - How We Make Money
We manufacture uniquely designed, functional, decorative, custom ceramic objects from our own collection and from files uploaded to our website and other channels. We sell these designs directly to consumers and businesses.

Why We're Raising Funds
We are raising funds to expand our marketing efforts and outreach to consumers and develop next generation of the 3D printing manufacturing process.

Nov 28, 2012

Multi colored RepRap Mendel printing

Here is a video by THE Adrian Bowyer showing multi headed Mendel printing in three colors and challenges when CAD modelling it.

RepRapPro Multi-material Printing from Adrian Bowyer on Vimeo.

Prusa Nozzle - new full metal 3d printing nozzle

New RepRap hot-end with amazing properties:
  • No PTFE or PEEK (can't be molten)
  • Food safe Stainless Steel
  • Using powerful heat cartridge
  • Prints ABS and PLA
  • Ready to print Polycarbonate, PEEK & Nylon[1]
  • Easy to mount (M6 thread)
  • Open Source once ready to sell
  • Made by designer of Prusa Mendel
  • 70€ fully assembled including nozzle, heater block with heater cartridge and thermistor, wade compatible ALU mount plate.

Nov 27, 2012

Ultimaker print farm

I don't know who this guys are but they have a sweet setup. Twelve Ultimakers in a farm printing at very high speed, controlled on mobile phone (possibly web interface) and automatic removal of finished models. Cool.

WASP printer / mill video presentation

WASP from Italy combines 3d printer and cnc mill, like wasp that digs out and constructs hive by layering mud.

Test your models online with

This is sooooooooo useful!  You take your model and test it online! No more failed prints, and you can do testing anywhere. Without your 3d printer.

So what can Willit 3D Print do?:

  • Test if your part has features that can be 3D printed or not
  • Visualise the surface roughness of the printed part
  • See where support is needed
  • Estimate the build time and the cost of your part
  • Calculate the carbon footprint of your part
  • Reorientate, rescale, and reposition your part
  • Export your changes (in STL or AMF)

Update: I gave it a short test. In my latest version of Firefox it failed to load file, probably a bug on my side. It works perfectly in Chrome. It still needs more simulated printers and print materials. Great tool!

New printer prototype - Delta Forge

Here is a new design concept and printer prototype the Delta Forge. It looks similar to Rostock Deltas but with some twists, solutions, with less electronics and no steppers. It is still in development and testing phase.

More details and video:

Nov 25, 2012

Ultimaker controlled with inbuilt tablet PC

Jarkko Moilanen didn't want to carry PC and printer together so he merged them. He can now control his Ultimaker with old Win 7 Exo PC tablet (UltiController), download models, slice them and listen music, and everything is built in as one unit. Ingenious idea! I can see this as new standard for 3d printers. There is enough cheep tablets floating around. He states that slicing is somewhat slow, but I think it can be solved with some optimization on software side.

Full story and more details on:

New low-cost 3d printer: Portabee

And it is LOW-cost! Priced at 480$ it is very affordable as entry in 3d printing world.

From the product page:

The Portabee has been the first conveniently portable 3D printer in the world. It is easily collapsible in a matter of seconds and fits into a laptop bag, making it transportable 'on-the-go' - bring it along with you when taking a bus, a train... even on a bicycle in a haversack on your back! And since it's lightweight - weighing in at 2.8kg (6.2lbs) - you can bring it around anywhere with you!

And with a slightly larger 'l
aptop luggage' style bag, you can put the Portabee into the same bag as your laptop computer, along with some feedstock filament, power supplies for both devices (the Portabee uses a laptop-type power supply), some instant coffee sachets, cookies... you get the idea.

The Portabee opens up numerous possibilities which were previously impractical - designers and design engineers can now offer to print out a sample of their design solution at the client's premises, on the spot and with applied design changes, for quick evaluation. Educators can loan Portabees to students for a time period to complete a school assignment involving 3D printing, be it an arts, design, or engineering discipline. An artist can walk into her favourite cafe, suddenly get in a creative mood, whip out the Portabee and a laptop and start designing something and print it out, all while sipping her usual cuppa and enjoying some cheesecake.

The Portabee is available as an unassembled kit form with a colour illustrated step-by-step assembly guide. Assembled and tested Portabee 3D Printers are also available.

  • 135x135x120mm build volume
  • T2.5 New! 2GT (GT2) belts and machined pulleys
  • Full linear bearings on all axes
  • All stainless steel hardware where applicable, hardened steel linear rods (smooth rods)
  • Single board solution Gen6.d electronics with integrated fan and SD card support
  • Heated platform (printbed) included as standard
  • Uses common, tried and tested Ø 3mm* feedstock filament, commonly PLA and ABS materials
  • 0.5mm standard nozzle*

They also provide files for printing of support elements. 

3D model surface restoration

Excellent mini tutorial by youtube user maxamillionschnell on how to restore and repair 3d printed model bottom surface that has white "ugly" finish on it. If you use acetone on it it will be shiny, and not to mention that acetone is toxic. He uses heat gun to get rid of white stuff and get nice mate finish.

Nov 24, 2012

High-end 3d metal printing

I was looking around to see what's there on industrial side and found two interesting videos on metal 3d printing:

Direct Metal Laser Sintering - DMLS

(with some nice engineering nerdy humor)


Rapid Prototyping and Digital Sand Casting

Some heavy duty 3d printing of sand molds and aluminum/iron metal casting.

Nov 23, 2012

New diy 3d printer - miniFactory

Yet another low-cost printer is coming from Finland: miniFactory

Specs are:
  • Build area: 140 x 150 x 140 mm or 5.5 x 5.9 x 5.5 inches
  • Layer thickness: 0.1 - 0.3 mm with miniFactory™ original nozzle
  • Speed: Up to 80 mm/s
  • Nozzle diameter: 0.35 mm
  • Positioning precision: 0.0004 mm on Z axis and 0.016 mm on XY axes
  • Material: 1.75mm PLA
  • Printer dimensions: 42.0 (L) 33.5 (W) 33.5 (H) cm
  • Printer weight: <10 kilograms
  • Electronics: 4 Stepper motor controllers, 2 temperature sensors, end-stop switches for XYZ axes, 2 heater outputs, 1 extra output for example fan controlling
  • Price: EUR790 / USD1,010 / GBP635 (not included taxes and shipping costs)

Nov 21, 2012

DIY volumetric 3d display for 40 euro

Here is a cheap volumetirc 3d display you can make with your 3d printer and Dremel tool. It still needs some development, but I think most of the parts could be 3d printed. Cheep 3d projection device. Very cool!

Via Hackaday


Michele has a new version of this 3d display that is combined with a projector:

Details can be found at:

The OrcaM Sphere

Nov 19, 2012

Working 3D Printed Automatic Transmission Gear system

Created by thingiverse user emmett. Great working model.

From the video description:

This is an automatic transmission model I designed and 3D printed (you can download the design here: This type of gearing arrangement is common in automatic transmissions in cars, though the clutches and brakes and hydraulics that control them are far more complex than modeled here. Also missing is the torque converter.

These gears are known as herringbone, which are not generally found in real transmissions because they are too difficult to machine. However, they are easy to print, and they have the advantage of being self-centering.

Nov 13, 2012

Mixing 3d printed and real objects

It is just cool in an artsy way! Also melting away borders of real and 3d printed objects. It probably uses high-end industrial multicolor printers, but it is still cool ...

A sandstone block built from lego, blending real objects with 3d prints from Greg Petchkovsky on Vimeo.

Made for the "Make it real" challenge on Instructables,

Nov 12, 2012

Silent Runner blimp with 3d printed parts

Silent Runner is Arduino powered hobby blimp with key structural elements printed on 3d printer. If you want to build it yourself everything is open-sourced and can be found on link bellow the videos.

Metal casting in 3d printed mold

Bismuth alloy casting a metal model in 3d printed plastic mold and then dissolving the mold in acetone.  There are some safety issues, so check guidelines before doing it yourself.

Nov 11, 2012

3d printing furniture out of recycled waste plastic

This video shows the real potential of 3d printing technology. It is refurbished old industrial robot upgraded with 3d printing extruder which uses recycled plastic waste. It prints usable furniture out of garbage. Possibilities for this concept are enormous. You can scale it up for large waste centers, or scale it down for home use.

Untitled from Dirk Vander Kooij on Vimeo.